Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.
What is the most effective way to inform others about travel?
Is it through a photo gallery? A beautifully written essay? A video?
As the media landscape keeps trending toward multimedia and interactive storytelling, storytellers of all genres are presented with the challenge of mastering it all. Perhaps one story is best told through the written word, perhaps another through audio or video, and yet another as a combination.
This is particularly true with travel stories, where the visuals are often stunning but the experiences are often complex and powerful.
Take a look at two different ways of telling similar stories, along with one heartfelt memorial to a “ragged soldier”:
Impossible Rock (January 2014, National Geographic): Here is what you might call the “traditional” way to tell a travel story.
Mark Synnott of National Geographic documents his journey to the top of a mountain in Oman with a pair of twenty-somethings; all three are avid climbers, though Synnott fills his pack with a little more trepidation.
For me, Synnott is most effective in this piece when describing the non-climbing parts of the trip, such as his interplay with the locals. Within these asides and vignettes are moments that could not possibly be fully captured with a photo. They are best told verbally.
He describes the hike with similar gusto, but here I really benefited from the story’s attached photo gallery. (I am assuming, of course, that photos were featured far more prominently in the magazine story than they are online.) A link in the top left corner of the page directs the reader to the work of photographer Jimmy Chin, whose dramatic snapshots truly drive home the daring nature of the climbers.